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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Observer's Sky Atlas: With 50 Star Charts Covering the Entire Sky
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Looks small and unimpressive, but WOW! By far the most useful single sky guide I've found. What makes it special? First, the trick of showing additional detail and fainter stars for only selected areas of the sky, along with full-sky coverage of brighter stars...if you use binoculars or a telescope to hunt down faint objects, you will see lots of faint stars too, and showing them on the charts is a big help to orient you. Second, the scaling of the charts and of the plotted stars is unusually well matched to what you actually see through binoculars or a telescope at low power, making it easy to match your eyepiece view to what the chart shows. (Indeed, I find it superior to either the Sky Atlas 2000.0 or Uranometria--much larger and more expensive charts--in that regard.) Third, the format of listing interesting objects with associated data on pages facing each map is very useful and convenient. Fourth, the inclusion of hundreds of NGC objects besides the full Messier list makes this a reference that a beginner will not soon outgrow, and a veteran will continue to find it useful through the years. Fifth, the information regarding the types of instruments needed to view each object (small binoculars, large binos, small scope, medium scope) is the most accurate and practical I've seen. Sixth, it's so portable you can take it out on every viewing session--it even fits into a binocular case. Downside? Only that so few dealers carry it! ...and you've found one here. Good work, Amazon.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I shopped & researched long and hard before I bought a new star atlas. I paged through every one I could find, but I had never seen this one in-person. All of the glowing online reviews sold me - and I ordered it. Initially I was disappointed. However, the more I looked through it - and evaluated its contents - my opinion change for the positive.
It's handy & convenient (small sized & nice for use at the scope). It details stars to magnitude 6 (naked eye limit is 5.2 - 6.0). The book includes detailed insets on each chart detailing stars to magnitude 9 (a magnitude limit only found in the "big boy" atlases). And I found the data tables - opposite each page's chart - concise yet informative.
Drawbacks: sometimes it's too small (one cannot get a "regional feel"). Sometimes it's annoying that a constellation or "region" of the sky is split over two different charts (because the charts are organized in "sidereal time", e.g. Andromeda is Chart "N0" but Pegasus is chart "E23"; Ursa Major is chart "N8" and "N10").
Is there a perfect star atlas? Unfortunately, "No". But this little guide has a little of everything for the amateur astronomer. If you're comet hunting, well ... buy an atlas like the Herald-Bobroff . But for the armchair astronomer up to the amateur with an 4"-8" telescope, this little atlas fills a niche that wasn't completely filled before it came along. And when used with other aids in the field - like a good planisphere for that "regional feel" - it's extremely valuable.
Some of you very serious observers might need another, larger atlas for reference and/or desk use. However, you can't go wrong with this little book. Call it a professional atlas that's been on a strict diet. Lean & mean. Someday you might find this little book on one of those "sandwich commercials" - look out Jared :))
P.S.: This atlas deserves at least a 4-star rating; it could easily be a 5-star rating depending upon the user's need(s).
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
I looked forward very much to getting this book. I had a copy of the first edition and lost it on a trip to Chile. Among the several atlases I own, I found this one to be the most convenient for general observing. When I received the new edition, I was at first, disappointed. The older edition was printed on glossy paper that resisted moisture very well while using it in the field and the new version is not. Nevertheless, it is still printed on good paper and may hold up well. Time will tell. One of the other things I liked so much about the older version was the pocket size, and the new edition is about an inch larger in both directions. Again, it is still more handy than a hardbound book like the "Cambridge" or "Norton" atlases. Neither is it so thick that it is difficult to hold open like the "Peterson's" guides.
After examining the contents I saw that the added size was put to good advantage. The same basic charts are there from the first edition, but just a little larger in scale. And now there is quite a bit more information packed on the opposing pages that describe the objects to be viewed. Binary or multiple stars with significant relative motions are plotted so that you can see how the relationship will change over the next 20 years. A visual plot is given of the position angle of these stars rather than just a number. Little thermometers indicate the relative temperatures of each component to give an idea of the color difference to be expected. For regular variable stars a small waveform is often included that describes the period and change in brightness of the star. A set of symbols is now used to describe the ease of visibility of objects and objects with low surface brightness are noted using the same symbols. Several other columns have been added that are to assist in finding an object on the adjacent chart and to identify its magnitude. Although I did not find these particularly useful, others may.
At the beginning of the book there is a chart that I do not remember from the first edition that describes how natural and man-made light pollution affects the view of objects and shows how many objects can be seen under what conditions. All together the books positive changes balance the negative ones nicely. It will still be my first choice at the telescope. One negative that might exist for users new to the sky is that now there may be too much information on each page. I do not think that will be a problem for most. Thanks for the new edition!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
There are two small atlases I consider to be absolutely indispensable. The Observer's Sky Atlas is one of them. The unique feature of The Observer's Sky Atlas is the insets on each chart that provides additional detail in the vicinity of many of the most commonly sought after objects. In this way, Karkoschka has been able to plot stars down to magnitude 9 for those areas of the sky you are most likely to be targeting. This feature has allowed me to more easily zero in on an object where my other favorite field atlas, (see below), sometimes provided too few stars to pinpoint exactly where I was as I tried to narrow in on a tiny section of dark sky.

When opening the book, each chart is printed on a right hand page. Each chart covers a nice area of the sky and includes stick figures of the constellations to help get your bearings. Then, as mentioned above, key areas within the chart are further detailed with the insets. The charts are not in color, so some may not see them as pretty as in other books, but there is a nice elegance to them nonetheless. The charts are easy to find using the all sky view key to charts at the back of the book, (which oddly is in color).

Data for the objects on each chart are printed on the facing left hand page. This is a very nice feature that I particularly like. Information includes such things as a star's apparent and absolute magnitude, it's B-V index, its distance and its coordinates. For binary stars there is information on their separation and their variability. For nebula and galaxies there is additional information on size, shape, and distance. There are even short descriptions of how objects appear through a telescope or binoculars. Karkoschka has done a great job of providing a lot of information in a very condensed but easy to read format.

One drawback to this atlas is the construction. The atlas is not spiral bound, so it does not lay flat, and the pages, although sturdy enough, are not in any way water resistant.

Overall though, this is an outstanding atlas for taking into the field, and I would certainly recommend it. As I said, I consider it to be indispensable.

Another outstanding atlas is Sky and Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas by Roger Sinnott. It is a nice compliment to The Observer's Sky Atlas. I like the Pocket Sky Atlas for its big broad views of the sky and it's stunning charts (see my review of that book). I like the Observer's Sky Atlas for its additional detail both in the chart insets and in the descriptions of objects. Both are ideal as field atlases, and I keep them both very close at hand when I've observing.

I hope you're not in a position where you can only buy one. Choosing between the two would be difficult. As I said, I keep both with me when I'm observing. But if you do have to choose, I would suggest the following. If you want the nicest looking atlas, go with the Pocket Sky Atlas. If you want a bit more detail and you don't mind giving up the glossy color pages and spiral binding, go with the Observers's Sky Atlas. But honestly, you really can't go wrong with either one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
I like this Atlas because it is handy and complete, in a small package. Whether I am using my 10" Dob reflector telescope, or my 7x50 binoculars, this Atlas is with me.
One problem I had when I started in the hobby of astronomy was finding star charts showing dim stars to "steer" or star-hop my telescope by. The charts showing very dim stars are expensive and too detailed. Less-expensive and more popular star atlases were not detailed enough to find my way among the stars.
This Atlas solves the problem by offering, right on the chart page, a handy, detailed inset showing the dimmer stars in the immediate area of many objects sought out by star-gazers.
Give this Star Atlas a try; it is simple to use, handy in size, and accurate. It will enhance your star-gazing experience. Thank you, E. Karkoschka!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Ok, you've probably read all the other enthusiastic comments from the other reviewers. I have nothing more to add to that...except: I prefer the first edition compared to the second edition. It is printed in Germany on high gloss heavy weight paper that is more resilient to dew and condensation...which might not sound like a big deal to you but believe me if you use it as often as I do you'll know what I mean. The 2nd Ed is printed on more absorbent acid free paper (in the US). The good thing is that the star maps in the back pages are marked in blue/green, which is better than the red constellation markings in the first Ed as the blue/green lines do not disappear under a red flashlight. Otherwise, both editions are equally good and are not overly different.

June 2005 Update: Yes, still using it everytime I go out and still loving it! My scopes range from 3" to 9.25", this book is great for all of them.

Jan 2007 Update: Having shifted heavily to astrophotography, I find Sky & Telescope's little Star Atlas to be a more effective field reference. Karkoschka's book is mainly for the visual astronomer as it leaves out some of the more desirable DSO's for photography.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Some of us have a penchant for portability - a disposition for stuff that's easy-to-tote, whether it be accessories, maintenance items, or even the featured equipment itself. For star parties and "over-niters" I could care less if my bulk and baggage are busting at the seams. However, a walk on the boulevard with binoculars, or the occasional front yard setup for a hop through Cygnus, is much more enjoyable without having to juggle back and forth between the eyepiece and whatever I'm using as a reference - like a clumsy atlas.
The Observer's Sky Atlas is a streamlined reference for use with binoculars and small and medium telescopes. It employs 50 charts, displaying all stars down to 6th magnitude. It contains the usual narrative on how to use the charts, complete with graphics and diagrams like a B-V Color Index, and Apparent Magnitude and Distance Scales. There is also a good introductory lexicon, for terms such as precession and sidereal time.
Each of the 50 charts is outlined and numbered on a complete sky map showing all the constellations. Go to the page with its corresponding chart number (easy to do) and you're presented with all the accouterments for visual reference of the area.
The chart will be on the right. All the celestial objects of interest are listed on the left-facing page by object-type, and in order of right ascension. The chart page on the right shows several views of the featured area - an overall perspective of the constellation, and some "finder-charts" of various magnifications, i.e.: - a binocular view; a finder-scope view, etc. The extensive index on the left page lists objects by number (NGC, IC, Messier) or by common name. In the fourth column is a small coded square, which shows where the object can be found on the main chart, and/or any of the accompanying finder-charts. A clever and helpful idea.
As with any book of this genre, there are some minor errors and typos, but none of any consequence. This little atlas is amazingly comprehensive, and very easy to use. If you need a good deep sky reference that's loaded with essential objects in a convenient format, then you can't go wrong with this one.
NOTE: - A beginning novice may find initial exposure to an atlas of any level to be somewhat overbearing. However, with time and a little practice (as with any tool) it will indeed assume its rightful place within the realm of familiarity and usefulness. Thus, this book is perfectly suited for beginning amateurs, advanced observers, and casual stargazers, all of which are grown and graduated from the rank of "novice".
Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This little gem comes with me to every observing session. It is very easy to use it to star-hop and identify faint fuzzies with my 8" dob. The information and layout is extremely reader-friendly and has good visibility under a red light. The pages are organized so that it is easy to find the section of sky you are interested in very quickly. A lot of dew has formed and dried on its pages, and I hope to use it for years to come!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I take this little book with me every stargazing night. It is small and fits right in my eyepiece case. The best thing about this atlas is not the maps, it is the list of the best objects to view that accompany each map. Each list includes the best deep sky objects--Messier and otherwise, the best double stars, and the best variable stars. This quick reference guides you to the best objects in any sector of the sky. I use it as a check list to check off objects as I view them. I have half a dozen star atlases. This one always goes where I go. Great for binoculars or telescopes. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Talk about complete information in a small package! This is it! I was amazed at the amount of GOOD, useful information packed between the 134 pages of this thin, almost-pocket-sized handbook. The black-and-white star charts to magnitude 6 are excellent, with magnified views to magnitude 9 as seen through a small telescope. Each chart covers a small, manageable area of the celestial sphere, with 24 charts (one for each hour of Right Ascension)for the Equatorial/Ecliptic region, 12 for the Northern sky, 12 for for the Southern sky, and one each for the poles. Vital, easy-to-read information on bright stars, variable stars, multiple stars, clusters, nebulae, and galaxies is included. The introduction is concise, but very thorough. I highly recommend this atlas for use in the field by any amateur astronomer.
Added 10/23/2003: I Added thumb-index tabs to the three index pages; "Nebulae" (including Messier and NGC objects), "Stars" (by name), and "Constellations". I also tabbed each section, noting charts numbered N1, E1, E12, and S1 to help me flip quickly to the right page. It make the book more useful on a dark, cold, dewy night under the stars.
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